Monday, 17 June 2013

The Battle of the Olives - Hail Caesar Battle Report

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, in an age which history has kindly forgotten, mixed up, and become generally confused about, the Romans, with their Celtic allies, launched a raid into that powerhouse of industry; Greece.  Having filled their carts full of that most precious of cargoes; olives, they set off back towards the border for a date with wine and pasta.  The ancient Greeks were not so keen to see their olives made with so freely, and dispatched a force of historically inaccurate hoplites and peltast to block the road while further re-enforcements made their way to the scene, drawn by the smell of the Celts choice of (or lack of) bath materials.

And so the scene is set, my Romans, their column led by Luke’s celtic warbands, heading home in a march formation along a dirt track thinking about olives and lovely boys called Mario when a force of hoplites and Greek skirmishers leap out from behind some blades of grass.  Commanded by Chris ‘Damn your whinging sir and Charge!’ Fazey, they are aiming to hold up the column long enough for the remains of the Greek army (Red presiding) to hit the flanks and wipe out jonny foreigner.  Victory goes to the Romans if any of their 3 supply units (2 carts and a donkey train of 2) get off the board at the roads end, or the Greeks are beaten off.  The Greeks win if everyone else dies first.  Simple.

Technical’s; the board was 10ft long by 5ft wide, the Romans and celts in 4 divisions moved down the road towards Chris’ 1 division at the roads fork, while Red’s troops came on at a predetermined time and place known only to Red and Chris – the more advantageous the place, the longer they had to wait for the troops to arrive!

The Battle

Its was the Celts that started it, their lack of understanding of the concept of ‘march column’ meant they were already in their default attack setting of ‘angry rabble’, which then barrelled down the road towards the Greek blocking force.  The bulk of the legionaries were in the following division which, led by the Roman general, swung to the right off the road to support the Celts movement.  The second Roman infantry division, a mix of legionaries, auxiliaries and slingers, followed the Celts down the road guarding the baggage, while the Roman horse division brought up the rear.

The Celts leading the column as the Roman 1st division files off the road.

Chris' Greek roadblock waiting for them.

The table in general around turn 2-3.

 Red decided to get his troops in early, and brought his first division of two units (taxis!) of hoplites and some slingers on beside the village to face the Romans 1st infantry division just as it deployed into line.  The 1st Cohort (a large unit) charged in on the nearest hoplite taxi (all the hoplites once more being large units), supported by two more cohorts of legionaries, while the hoplites had the other hoplite unit in their division as support.  Red rolling appallingly, and for the first time in RGMB ancient history the hoplites broke and fled in the first round, with their support joining them!  Given the lack of Greeks this would have made for a very one sided and boring game, so we allowed the Greeks an extra (identical) division, which promptly reappeared in the next turn in the same location and hurled itself into its previous conquers, pushing back the 1st Cohort, and wiping out one of the other cohorts as the hoplites pressed their advantage.

Messy - Celts vs Greeks on the road, and the first Greek division to fight the Romans on the left.

A meeting of minds which the celt warband eventually loses.

Roman escorting precision.

The Roman 1st division in trouble and crushed against the woods.

On the road in the centre the Celts (also big warbands/rabbles) came face to face with the hoplites blocking their passage.  They wiped out the Greeks supporting peltasts, but came to grief against the Greek heavies themselves.  Chris’ hoplites pushed back and wiped out the central rabble, before coming up against the lead baggage cart which I had foolishly allowed to get far ahead of its Roman escort.  Fulfilling character obligations I blamed Luke for allowing the Greeks to break through to the valuable olives!  The Celts other two war bands turned, intending to charge the rear of the hoplites, but decided that it was either unsporting, or too suggestive and stopped short of the act.  The hoplites had no such qualms, and dispatched the baggage cart with ease, although one unfortunate Greek did catch an ox’s hoof in an unfortunate place.  

The Greek hoplites are through, but the celts turn on them.

In the fields the Romans came under the cosh; the hoplites pressing their advantage and, crushing the 1st cohort against an inconveniently placed wood, then wiped out the 3rd and last legionary cohort in that division, destroying the Roman generals command.  They continued on, making for the road and the two baggage units there.  The Roman second division reacted by swinging off the road and deploying in front of them, a formation which the hoplites ploughed into in an attack column formation, one supporting the other.  This time the Roman legionaries, having been rolled back a move in the first charge, stood firm second time round supported by legionaries, auxiliaries and slingers, plus some more awful dice rolling from Red.  The last turned into a theme, which saw the Hoplites perform their disappearing trick for the second time in the game to cheers from the Romans, which turned even louder when the Celts finally got stuck in on the road and Chris’ command vanished under a wave of random hair doo’s.

The last Greek hope was a final division which appeared on the Roman right flank, only to have to contend with the Roman cavalry division, which had finally worked out there was some fighting going on at the head of the column and had hotfooted it up there.  With the demise of the Greek centre however, and the solid line of legionaries, auxiliaries and cavalry facing this last division the Greeks called it a day, and conceded the field to the enemy.  Victory to the Romans and Celts!

Reds greeks come within touching distance of the road and the baggage, but no further.

The last Greek division - too late to help.


Not a terrible scenario, with perhaps the Greek re-enforcements arriving a tad too late at the end, and the Greeks playing to their enemies strength by spreading out against a more numerous Romans and Celtic army rather than blockading the road and daring them to push through.  Given the difference in sizes of the armies I tried to create a scenario which the Greeks could use to their strengths.

The Romans scored an early impressive victory which caused us to resurrect a Greek division rather than ruin the game, while the celts stood up for longer in combat that Luke had expected them to after the initial clash.  Chris almost got some revenge in with some slinger fire at the baggage, which I’d left exposed again, but they were fortunately chased away by the Celts!  

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